2015 Charter School of the Year – Mission Montessori Academy

Mission Montessori Academy strives to help their students grow into peacemakers, compassionate stewards of the planet and global citizens.

The school’s Global Education Program is central to this mission, with an emphasis on teaching students to understand global issues and find ways to help solve the world’s challenges.

However, Mission Montessori students don’t just learn these lessons in the classroom, they live it.

The students have traveled to China, Switzerland and Rome to practice these lessons and accomplish the program’s goals while gaining a deeper understanding of different cultures, religions and backgrounds. They’re scheduled to head to Chile later this school year.

Mission Montessori Academy, 2015 Charter School of the YearThis focus, along with the school’s high academic standing, is one of the main reasons Mission Montessori our 2015 Charter School of the Year.

JoDene Tryon founded Mission Montessori in 1995 as a private preschool school serving children ages 2-6. She wanted to bring a Montessori education to more students, so five years later, JoDene opened a charter school that now serves 300 K-8 students in Scottsdale.

The school has received an A-grade from the Arizona Department of Education for the last three years and is consistently ranked among the state’s highest achieving schools.

School officials attribute the Mission’s success to its global focus, combined with the Montessori philosophy of education, which focuses on a child’s social, psychological and physical development.

“In order for them to succeed, we have to say ‘who is that child?’, emotionally and socially, so we can speak to them,” said Patricia Sandler, global studies director at the school.

In order to achieve this, the school pours a lot of resources into teacher development, sending teachers to a rigorous, special program in Texas that prepares them for providing a Montessori-based education in a charter school.

The teachers receive a special certificate after completing the program.

“Some of the training programs did not prepare teachers for the public charter school environment,” said Superintendent Deborah Summers. “We want the best Montessori teachers.”

The school also relies heavily on parent involvement, Summers said.

“We’ve created an environment that’s welcoming. It’s that openness that’s encouraged parents to participate,” she said.

Ultimately, the school wants its students be happy and to learn in a safe and peaceful environment.

By all accounts, it’s working.

Savannah Wright has attended the school since she was two. She has support from family, including her two siblings who attend the school and parents who work at the school.

“I just really like the academics of the school,” said second grader Savannah Wright, 8. “I’m really lucky to be here.”

This is the second in a series of blogs about each of our 2015 charter award winners. Read our post about the Lifetime Achievement honorees hereYou can find out more about Mission Montessori Academy here. Want a behind the scenes look at our 2015 award winners? Click here.

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